Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chicken-style okara seitan

What is this unusual light, casting shadows and making food items unrecognizable? Why, it''s...sunlight! Sunlight at supper time! It deserves a photo of its own, I'm so happy to see it!

Before I give the recipe for the seitan, I'll interpret the meal for you. The brown-ness and general unintelligibility of this image disguise a truly outstanding meal. What you see here is:

1. The Seitan piccata with olives and [without] green beans, from Veganomicon;

2. The Lentils with pasta, rice, and buttery mint sauce from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone;

3. Mushrooms and spinach sauteed in sherry, salt, and pepper;

4. Some more of Bryanna's Bulgarian-style tofu yogurt.

Lentils, pasta, rice, buttery mint sauce, good Lord, need I say more? This is like mujadarah with...well, buttery mint sauce, just imagine! I've made it many times and no doubt you'll see it here many times more.

The piccata recipe was lovely. I still have some of the sauce left over.

Now, the seitan:

First, I did make the soymilk recipe I had imagined two days ago, namely:

2 cups soy beans
1 cup dates
2 tbsp oatmeal

…and it was really good. It didn't even need any flavouring except a pinch of salt. Unfortunately, it was also really thick, making straining a bit of a nightmare. Enough so that I won't be making this exact recipe again. I'm still working on those straining tips and tricks. Anyway, after some healthy struggles with various sieves and filters, I ended up with about 1.5 cups of okara. With this, I developed the following recipe, based on my favourite chicken-style seitan recipe from the Real Food Daily Cookbook:

Zoa's chicken-style okara seitan

Dry mix:
2 cups gluten flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt

Wet mix:
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup lightly roasted peeled almonds
1 1/2 cups okara, well squeezed (or cooked cannellini or navy beans)
1/3 cup tamari
2 cups water

Heat the 1 tbsp oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until tender. Set aside to cool.

Stir the gluten flour, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, and salt together in a large bowl to blend. (Be careful when adding the chickpea flour that it doesn't clump; I add it through a sieve).

In a food processor, very finely grind the almonds. Add the okara, tamari, the remaining 1/3 cup canola oil, the sautéed onion/garlic mixture, and 1 cup of the water, and process until smooth.

Stir the bean mixture and the remaining water into the dry ingredients until a very wet dough forms.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces, form each piece into a thick "sausage" shape, and roll up in aluminium foil. [See Julie Hasson's demonstration here for details of this process; she invented it.] Steam the sausages for an hour.

My descriptive skills are insufficient to the incredible taste of this seitan. It's not so much that I'm a genius as that the basic seitan sausage-type recipe is so very versatile you can do all sorts of things with it. I'll be testing this out further in the near future. Meanwhile, I couldn't stop eating it! Frankly, it was even better plain than in the piccata. So far, this is my favorite seitan ever. Clearly, I'm not celiac, but even so large quantities of gluten don't really agree with me, taste-wise or internally, so this recipe, which mixes it up with beans and nuts, is perfect. I like it better than the original—maybe you will too!

I must also say that rubbing off the bean skins gives such superior okara that I will be doing this for all time in the everything else, you get better with practice, and, like so much else, I'm already pretty much used to it.


  1. Hey Zoa,
    Lemme ask you a question re: Bryanna's "yogurt" recipe: what exactly is extra firm silken tofu? I always have extra firm tofu on hand but it doesn't look very "silken" to me. Is there a particular brand that you buy for this?
    Thanks in advance!

  2. Hi, Stacy:

    Good question! I had trouble with this too for a long time, and here's what I finally came up with--anybody who knows better can correct me, but this works for recipes. There are three main types of tofu available in most grocery stores:

    1. The kind that comes in "plastic bag" packaging; it's tough enough to stand some pitching about in transit without squishing or breaking. It's the kind you cut up and use for stir fries. This is "Chinese-style" tofu (never mind that it has "extra-firm," "firm," and "soft" designations).

    2. Then there's the kind that is sold water-packed in little plastic tubs. It needs some support. It's usually just called "tofu" or "fresh tofu" on the packaging. It, too, comes in "extra-firm," "firm" and "soft." It's much softer and more jelly-like than the Chinese-style tofu. THIS is what I believe Bryanna and others mean when they talk about "silken" tofu. in the "yogurt" recipe, for instance, you do want some substance, but not little grainy chunks, and this kind of tofu delivers.

    3. Finally, there is the tofu that comes in cardboard aseptic packs. I believe there is a popular brand of this tofu called "Silken," which adds to the confusion. This too comes in "extra-firm," "firm," and "soft." However, it is *extremely* delicate and fine, almost translucent, and is mostly used for desserts, and I believe this is what many Japanese restaurants use in their miso soup. It's far too light for my taste, and I never buy it.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts...

  3. I love okara, and finding new ways to sneak it into recipes (I've got one for brownies somewhere on ye olde blog), so this is great!

  4. looks just phenomenal. I was looking for a way to use up my seitan and mushrooms, but now it looks like I'll have to run out for some okara, lol.

  5. So glad you published this as I'm just making my first ever home made tofu and have a pile of okara left which the recipe I followed told me to throw away!